Sorry, have been busy, but wanted to tell you that your comments earlier on Chomsky represent the first intelligent comments I've bumped into.
Complaints that he gets the facts wrong don't hold up. In his political analyses, as in his field of study, it is his intellectual integrity upon which his credibility sits, and he's easily smart enough to know that.
But he is, perhaps by constitution, something of a complainer. I happen to believe he complains about exactly the right things, and also believe that without his analytic capabilities, our understanding of many things (eg the handmaiden to power function of modern media) would be greatly impoverished. Yet, one can easily imagine him protesting pretty much any social arrangement he might have been born into.
Well, thank you for the compliment, but is that what I said about Chomsky? I dont recognize the point I made in how you and Craven summarised it, at all.
I don't mind complaining, and I dont think I ever even said anything about that. I mind when the complaints only ever concern, bottom line, a general, ideological point, and the facts of whichever topic is at hand are then redefined or reinterpreted to fit the crusade in question.
I think Chomsky - from the little of what I read from him - has made some very good criticisms about the US and American/Western/capitalist culture. But when he writes about other countries, other nations, I get this feeling that he isnt really much interested
in that place, at all - what he's interested
in, is exploring it (harvesting it, so to say) for facts and examples he can use in his own argument, about the general state of the world and the (devious) character of the West (etc) in general.
One doesn't necessarily need to lie and twist the facts for that (though I dont share your opinion that complaints that he gets the facts wrong never hold up) - all's one gotta do is select the few points that fit the context of your theory, of the fight you're
fighting, back home, and ignore the rest.
You see people do it here all the time. People are not really interested much in the history, current affairs or culture of Afghanistan, Iran or Uganda - they'll only jump on news from there if there's anything that can be used as pro-Bush or anti-Bush fodder. And then they'll redefine or reinterpret whatever the piece of news was to reflect the terms of the pro-Bush vs anti-Bush polarity, to hell with local contexts. Hypothetical example: Iranian students step up their protests, there's some violence, Khatami promises a further reform, Bush pleads for regime change in a speech? Then poster A. will observe that it's thanks to Bush that democratisation in Iran is now really starting to roll, while poster B. will argue that Bush is trying to create excuses for more reckless interventions. Neither really knows much, nor is much interested, in the history, dynamics or affinities of the student protesters or governments reformists unless
it fits the context of the political argument they're fighting back home. Thats what Chomsky reminds me of.
I usually only save stuff i like, so i dont have anything at hand to quote.
But it was for example during the yugoslav war that I got really annoyed by his stuff.
His primary interest - like that of many peers - seems to forever lie with the enemies he's fighting at home ... and whichever country's problems he turns his attention on, he will redefine them to fit the patterns he's identified (and fought) back home. Thats the impression i got away with there.
Very marxist, really - not his thinking per se, but that he does that. But myself, i cant stand - and i'm only very loosely referring to chomsky in particular, here - people who, when they look at kosovars or nigerians or uzbeks and the fates they face or fight, still only see their own political struggle, and simply project its categories and identifiers onto the scene. It's because they don't really care about the locals - those are just more symbols for their big scheme of things - thats why local contexts are best explained away. They only really care about their own fight & grail.